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Saturday, October 10, 2015

Reflections on a Life Well-Lived

This past week my good friend's brother, my friend as well, passed away unexpectedly. As I reflected back on conversations and the topic of death, I came to a few conclusions that I would like to share with you today. Every time I have written I have kept back from including references to literature, I am a literature major, but this time I felt it was fitting to include.

A couple of days before he passed away, I had just finished reading a book for school, Jane Eyre. The story line was a bit boring, but the ending was one of the best parts- for the sole reason that Jane ends the story, not about her life as married woman to her master Mr. Rochester, rather she focuses the end on the man she rejected to marry, St. John. St. John was a very Godly pastor whose sole desire was to serve the Lord. He had originally fallen for a beautiful young woman in the village who had fallen for him as well, but he ignored the idea of marrying her because he knew she wasn't fit for missionary work. She was too focused on worldly pursuits. As he prepared to go to India for mission work, he noticed Jane, who was not pretty, was strong enough for the work, she did as she was told, and she had taken up the dialect he had asked her to learn. He proposed to Jane in the hopes that she would be his helpmeet, telling her it wasn't for love but for help. He had chosen her because he knew she'd do well on the mission field. Jane said she would go but only as a sister, and St. John rejected the idea because of how inappropriate it would appear to bring a single woman with him to the mission field. Ultimately St. John left without Jane, and Jane tells of his ending:

Firm, faithful, and devoted; full of . . . truth, he labours for his race . . . His is the exaction of the apostle, who speaks but for Christ when he says -- 'Whosoever will come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me.' . . . His is the ambition of the high master-spirit . . . who stand without fault before the throne of God; who share the last mighty victories of the Lamb who are called, and chosen, and faithful. St. John is unmarried: he will never marry now. Himself has hitherto sufficed to the toil; and the toil draws near its close: his glorious sun hastens to its setting. I know that a stranger's hand will write to me next, to say that the good and faithful servant has been called at length into the joy of his Lord . . . . No fear of death will darken St. John's last hour . . . his hope will be sure; his faith steadfast. His own words are a pledge of this: - 'My Master,' he says, 'has forewarned me. Daily he announces more distinctly, -- "Surely I come quickly" and hourly I more eagerly respond, -- "Amen; even so come, Lord Jesus!"' (Brontë 385)
As I reflected on this fictional character's race, how it was obvious to everyone around him that he had run it well, I thought about my race. What will people say of my race, but more importantly what will God say?

When I heard the news about my friend's death I thought about how the last thing he had said to me was that he was praying for me as I faced some obstacles with school. Now it seems so trivial, but it wasn't to him. He had encouraged me to continue on serving the Lord, and I am now left with the memory that he had cared enough to check up on me and see how the Lord had answered prayer. And that memory has left the impression on my mind of the importance of setting aside the minuscule things in life: going on vacation, buying clothing, picking out home decor, having fun, etc., and focusing on the eternal things that matter: witnessing to others, taking care of ourselves spiritually, ministering to others, praying, reading the Bible, etc. His death has been a huge reminder to me of the importance of not wasting my life. He was younger than I am, and time is not on our side. We don't know when we too will be taken from this earth. I would encourage you to reevaluate your goals, purpose, and direction in life, because "only what's done for Christ will last."  (C.T. Studd)

I just want to end with this, another literary reference. In Jane Eyre, Jane had a childhood friend named Helen, who was about 13 in the story, who was a good example of bearing up under malicious and undeserved reproof. She humbled herself and took care to try to correct her faults, always looking to please God. She died of an illness, knowing she was dying, she did not fear death, because she could not wait to see God face to face. When she died, her tombstone bore her name and the word "Resurgam," which means in Latin, "I shall rise again." I am glad my friend will rise again, and I hope that this word can so nicely be placed on your tombstone as I hope it shall mark mine. Please keep my friend and her family in your prayers during this time.

 1 Corinthians 15:54-57 When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory.” “O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?” The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

Revelation 21:1-4 Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”

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